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German tolls for foreign car drivers?

2014-07-08 11:11

MONEY BACK FOR LOCALS: Germany's transport minister has revealed plans for new toll roads. Only foreigners will have to pay. Image: Shutterstock

GEIR MOULSON

BERLIN, Germany - Germany's transport minister says there are plans for the country to introduce a toll specifically for cars to earn money from the millions of foreigners who drive through the country each year.

Germany has a toll on trucks but, unlike many other European countries, no specific tolls for cars. Minister Alexander Dobrindt said it wasn't fair that foreign drivers did not contribute to maintaining the roads and that "fairness gap" should be closed.

Dobrindt plans to introduce toll stickers in 2016 for all cars using any roads in Germany, not just highways.

ANNUAL FEES

Foreign drivers will be able to get one-year, two-month or 10-day stickers online or from a filling station. The cheapest option, the 10-day sticker, will cost €10 - about R140.

Annual fees will vary according to cars' engine size and environmental credentials and average the equivalent of R1300 (while a separate car tax will be reduced so German drivers won't pay more overall). Dobrindt expects proceeds over four years to be about the equivalent of R36.6-billion.

Dobrindt's Bavaria-based Conservative Party, the smallest of three in chancellor Angela Merkel's government, insisted on introducing a car toll for foreigners despite the long-standing misgivings of its coalition partners. Many worry the system won't be compatible with European Union law because only foreign car-owners will pay more.

Yet, after months putting together the elaborate plan, Dobrindt said he was confident that would not be a problem.

EU transport commissioner Slim Kallas' office said it saw "many positive elements" in the plan but "until all the details are known and discussed there can be no green or red light from Brussels".

It stressed that any efforts should not directly discriminate against foreign drivers.
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